July 18, 2011 / 12:32 PM / in 7 years

Forest pushes new board members in fight vs Icahn

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Forest Laboratories Inc FRX.N plans to nominate a 10-person board slate that includes three new members at its shareholder meeting, as the drugmaker fends off a challenge from billionaire investor Carl Icahn.

In addition to seven incumbents, Forest plans to nominate Christopher Coughlin, former chief financial officer of Tyco International Ltd TYC.N; Gerald Lieberman, former president of AllianceBernstein Holding LP (AB.N); and Brenton Saunders, CEO of eye-care company Bausch & Lomb. Previously, Forest’s board had had nine members.

William Candee, a board member since 1959, and George Cohan, a director since 1977, will not stand for reelection at the meeting, which will be held August 18.

Icahn, who is Forest’s fourth-largest shareholder with a roughly 7 percent stake, is pushing four separate nominees for the board.

Forest CEO and Chairman Howard Solomon, who has led the company for 34 years, had been expected to hear calls from shareholders for some fresh perspective on the board in the wake of Icahn’s challenge.

Solomon has become more vulnerable to attack as Forest struggles to address future revenue holes from top drugs going off patent and as the U.S. government threatens sanctions against him personally.

    U.S. regulators are weighing whether to bar Solomon from participating in federal healthcare programs after his company last year agreed to plead guilty and pay more than $313 million to resolve charges over improper marketing of several drugs.

    Company shares are worth about half of what they were at their height in 2004 and a third less than peak 2007 levels, though they had begun to rebound before Icahn made his move.

    Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Derek Caney

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